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Five Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Meeting Downtime in Ann Arbor

By Destination Ann Arbor

The day’s agenda is done—all the to-do items have been checked off, and it’s time to come together as friends and colleagues. So, what is there to do? Well, if you’re meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan, plenty. Located just 20 minutes to the Detroit Metro Airport, which offers 1,100 daily flights from four continents, the city is home to the University of Michigan and is a hub of creativity and culture. Ann Arbor offers a walkable downtown and the quirky and innovative attractions you’d expect to find in a college town.

“Ann Arbor is a small town with a big feel. We’re a vibrant community that inspires groups to think and dream bigger. Imagine meeting in the same city where 20 Nobel Prize winners studied or worked, and where 502 inventions were reported by researchers in 2021 alone? It would be hard not to be inspired by that,” says Kristy Poore, interim director of sales at Destination Ann Arbor. “But we also know how to have fun after the workday is over, so your group will be able to take back wonderful memories in addition to forward-thinking ideas and strategies.”

Here are five tips for getting the most out of your downtime when you’re meeting in Ann Arbor:

1. Pick a great space as your home base.

For accommodations, consider Graduate Ann Arbor. The venue makes it easy to go from work to play. Offering three ballrooms—the largest of which can accommodate up to 300 people—Graduate Ann Arbor has a college campus inspired décor and amenities such as complimentary bicycles, a fitness center, a coffee shop, and the Alan Rumsey Cocktail Lounge (named for John Allen and Elisha Walker Ramsey, cofounders of Ann Arbor).

The Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest is an urban resort overlooking the Eagle Crest Golf Course. The retreat has nearly 34,000 square feet of meeting space with 30 breakout rooms and 17 event rooms—the largest of which can accommodate 1,200 people.

And if you want to be a little closer to the University of Michigan, consider the 200-room Kensington Ann Arbor. It has the largest ballroom in Ann Arbor and 10,000 square feet of event space that can accommodate up to 1,000 individuals.

2. Go back to school.

While meeting in Ann Arbor, your group can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the “Big House” the nickname of University of Michigan’s stadium. They can learn what it takes to put on a football game in the largest stadium in the Western Hemisphere and the third-largest in the world. Your group will be able to get down on the field and look up into the stands, which have held crowds exceeding 107,000.

3. Challenge your team—to have fun.

How about some axe throwing at Axe Ventura? After some one-on-one instruction with your own personal Axe Master, your group can throw some axes as they throw down some drinks. The private coach will teach you some games and then it’s on—as your team battles through the playoffs to see who will be crowned the champion axe thrower.

Or head to the Fowling Warehouse where they do bowling a little differently. In the city that has brought home 11 national football championships, it’s only natural to bowl by tossing the football instead of rolling the bowling ball. Group reservations are available during off hours as well.

For a variety of challenges, including both of the above, try Best in Games (B.I.G.) Entertainment, an all-inclusive mega destination with arcades, laser tag, Ninja Warrior, bumper cars, trampolines, and go-karts. B.I.G. Entertainment even has event spaces that can seat from 30-300 with in-house catering available.

4. Use your passport.

Explore the city’s distilleries and breweries with a free mobile craft passport. When you check-in digitally to a minimum of eight participating breweries or distilleries, you win a collectable pint glass.

5. Socialize like a local.

“From June through August, select streets in our Main Street Social District shut down for what are essentially block parties. Live music is played on Thursday nights throughout the district, and select businesses have ‘walk-and-go’ food and drink menus. Ann Arbor is an amazing foodie town, so this is a great way to sample some delicious food and really immerse yourself in the Ann Arbor vibe,” says Poore.